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Turning wastewater into a valuable resource

Turning wastewater into a valuable resource

07 Dec 2022

TO some, wastewater is seen as something to be disposed of, but with climate change and the many challenges we face today, this could potentially be a valuable resource for recovery.

For Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn Bhd, the term “wastewater” does not have to be discarded as waste, but instead be given new life after it is treated.

In its Sustainability Report 2021 entitled Embracing Change, its chief executive officer Narendran Maniam said IWK is a purpose-driven company with a core focus on ensuring our treated water is clean, safe and sustainable to the environment.

“We want to make sure the integrity of the water ecosystem of Malaysia’s wastewater industry is kept intact through a proper and well-maintained sewerage system. We are committed to taking a leadership role in addressing our sustainability approach through adherence to environmental, social and governance disciplines,” said Narendran in the report.

As such, Narendran added, IWK has embarked on wastewater treatment and reuse, leveraging green technology and giving meaning to its tagline “New Life for Water”.

IWK is able to produce 5,092MLD-treated bio-effluent (treated wastewater). That is equivalent to a whopping 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, before they are released in a safe form into bodies of water.

Apart from treating wastewater to safely return it to the environment, IWK can convert it for other uses with the help of green technology. One of them is through imposing further treatment to turn the bio-effluent into non-potable water for the next use such as irrigation, industrial use and agriculture in a way that does not harm the plant and soil.

There is so much potential for the reclamation of bio-effluent. The treated bio-effluent can supplement the usage of water by industries and commercial businesses daily, which is a fundamental product for nearly every step of the manufacturing and production practices around the world, whether it is used for producing, processing, washing, diluting and cooling among others.

By using reused treated wastewater, it could contribute to efforts in preserving the nation’s clean water resources, which eventually could ease the pressure on water sources and promote circular economy practices.

IWK embarked on a water reclamation initiative whereby wastewater treated from IWK’s sewage treatment plant will go through additional processing in order to be repurposed for non-potable uses by industrial sectors.

Forming a partnership with water operator Pengurusan Air Selangor (Air Selangor) Sdn Bhd, the companies will jointly manage wastewater discharged from IWK sewerage treatment plants though a special-purpose vehicle company, Central Water Reclamation Sdn Bhd (which is co-owned by Air Selangor and IWK).

Through this cooperation, the bio-effluent treated by IWK will be supplied to Central Water’s facilities to produce non-potable treated water.

In the report, Narendran also said: “To date, I am pleased to report that our Setia Alam region STP has commenced non-potable water operations since May 2021, capable of yielding 4MLD on non-potable water for industrial use since it started operations. Apart from this, via our partners, we also have started discussions with potential customers in reclaimed water business in Shah Alam and Melaka with the aim of rolling out the non-potable initiatives there soon.”

As early as 2015, IWK has taken steps to start small-scale projects with the local authorities to reuse treated effluent to water landscape crops. This showcases IWK’s longstanding commitment to sustainability and efforts in protecting the environment and its clean water sources.

In addition to this, IWK is also embarking on treating trade effluent discharged from Food and Beverage (F&B) industries.

With the adoption of biological processes and designed with some flexibility, some of the STPs operated by IWK have the potential to accept and treat additional loadings from industrial wastewater that are compatible with domestic sewage characteristics.

This would mean that the food and beverage (F&B) industry and industries that are producing biodegradable waste can optimise investment costs of operating industrial wastewater treatment plants and leave it to specialists to treat its trade effluent.

By loading trade effluent into the STPs operated by IWK for treatment, this would also bring immense benefit to the environment. It will reduce the pollution’s point of source, ensuring waste discharged is treated properly and effectively before it is released back into water sources.

IWK seeks to maximise water reuse options to ensure that Malaysia’s clean water sources are not stressed by industrial consumption, and as such looks at alternative solutions such as the reuse of its treated effluent.

Sustainability is at the heart of IWK’s operation and the company continues to find new ways to manage its processes and downstream by-products sustainably. These are just some examples of IWK’s waste-to-wealth initiatives to reduce wastage of resources and turn them into renewed outcomes.

Source: The Star